David's Review Corner
, March 2008
Today our major contact with the music of Dietrich Buxtehude comes from the organ loft, the musician, probably born in Denmark, having established himself as the father of the German organ tradition. Details of his early life are poorly chronicled, but we catch up with him during his time in Lubeck, where his appointment in 1667 as organist presented him with that status whereby he could influence the development of the nation’s music both as a composer and performer. He is credited as being the leading keyboard expert of his day, though as was custom at the time, the intended performing instrument is never shown. Musicologists would designate certain works as being more related to organ or to the harpsichord, the present series seeking to explore those works that would appear appropriate to the harpsichord, though possibly crossing that blurred boundary. The two Suites offer the type of intimate music suited to domestic performance, and would certainly be for the harpsichord, whereas the opening Toccata (BuxWV165) could well have been conceived for the organ. The disc brings one of the most important exponents of the Baroque era, Lars Ulrik Mortensen, playing an instrument by Thomas Mandrup-Poulsen based on a design by the famous maker, Ruckers. Born in Denmark, Mortensen came to prominence as the harpsichordist with the London Baroque, before embarking on a solo career that has been rewarded with many distinctions. This series of Buxtehude first appeared on the Dacapo label, its success naming Mortensen as the Danish Musician of the Year for 2000. Though the composer can be justly chided for being an ‘academic’, Mortensen brings life to the most predictable melodic invention. I particularly love the happiness and vitality he finds in the little Fugue in B flat (BuxWV 176) and the vivacity of his Canzona in C major (BuxWV 166). The recording has a low level reverberation, but is otherwise most enjoyable.